Peer-reviewed paper published on performance of Campylobacter criteria

6 July 2023

Several ICMSF members published a paper “Effectiveness of an increasingly stringent microbiological process hygiene criterion to control Campylobacter in broiler carcasses”.

This peer-reviewed article is open access and freely available on Elsevier.


Increasing the stringency of microbiological criteria is a risk management measure that can improve food safety and hygiene, but its adoption by governments around the globe is limited. In 2018, a hygiene criterion for Campylobacter in broilers was originally set by the European Commission, which intended to progressively increase its stringency in 2020 and in 2025. In this study, the effects of this regulation on the level of (non-)compliance were estimated based on baseline data on Campylobacter for the different European Union (EU) Member States and associated countries in 2008. Qualitative and quantitative baseline data were used to estimate concentration distributions, from which the levels of compliance with the legal limits were determined, making use of the ICMSF sampling plan spreadsheet and considering different batch properties (i.e., standard distributions of microorganism) and different non-compliance detection probability values. Based on the 2008 baseline data, the performance of the criterion is estimated to target the reduction of the mean log contamination level to about 0.25 and 0.5 log (factor 2 and 3 in arithmetic concentration) and to about 0.5 and 1.1 log (factor 4 and 12 in arithmetic concentration) in case the c-value decreases from 20 to 15 and from 20 to 10, respectively. Assuming a compliance level in practice of at least 98%, more and more food business operators in EU Member States would fail to meet this level as a consequence of the increasingly stringent criterion. This analysis clearly shows that a timewise push to further improve hygiene standards will be needed in various countries for their food businesses to be able to achieve a high level of compliance with the progressively stringent EU Campylobacter process hygiene criterion.

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